By Carrie Shipers
Feature image: The Purchaser, 1915 by Eric Gill
Do you pride yourself on your preparedness? For example,
have you already drafted a statement expressing shock
and sadness at the actions of Employee X? Did you
write it with a particular person and scenario in mind,
and if so will you say which ones? Given your choice
of disaster, would you prefer a product recall months
after concerns were first reported, high-level infidelity
involving interns and/or prostitutes, a flagrant
disregard for federal law, or embezzlement based on
shareholder fraud? Did you choose the challenge
you’re best poised to meet, or the one that sounded
the most fun? Speaking of fun, is it true most members
of your field make very poor decisions regarding alcohol,
sex and property damage, and therefore any conference
lasting longer than a day devolves into a bacchanal?
How often, in your personal life, do you attempt
to reframe information and influence someone’s view?
Is this a breach of ethics on your part, or would you insist
it’s simply human nature to want your own way?
Have you ever waged a secret, negative (i.e., “dark”)
campaign against a neighbor, coworker or person
sleeping with your spouse? Were your actions
as successful as you’d hoped? Despite your efforts
to predict what I might ask, were there any points
at which you felt compelled to obfuscate, equivocate
or hedge? Do you assume you did so with such skill
I couldn’t tell? On learning this was not the case,
would you feel more disappointment that you’d failed,
or relief someone finally had seen through your facade?
If the former, would your distress be eased by my sincere
apology, or do you doubt that such a thing exists?
Carrie Shipers’s poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New England Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and other journals. She is the author of Ordinary Mourning (ABZ, 2010), Cause for Concern (Able Muse, 2015), Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico, 2016), and Grief Land (University of New Mexico, 2020).
Feature image: Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported), Photo © Tate, London.